Sports

Grand Slammed Again: Four Thoughts on Astros ALCS Game 3

Kyle Tucker was the lone bright spot for the Astros in game three.
Kyle Tucker was the lone bright spot for the Astros in game three. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros were crushed for a second straight game in the ALCS 12-3, which included a third early-inning grand slam by the Red Sox. For a fourth straight game, a Houston starter could not eat up any innings. Jose Urquidy made it fewer than three innings. The Red Sox starter in Game 3 pitched more innings than the entire threesome of Astros starters in all three ALCS games.

Now, Houston and manager Dusty Baker must figure out how to piece together a rotation for Game 4 in Boston on Tuesday and find a way to get the bats going before this series spirals completely out of control if it hasn't already.

Heart of the order shut down.

The Astros one through five hitters went 2-18 in Game 3 with no walks and five strikeouts. That is simply not going to get it done. Granted, even with big bats, it may not have been enough to catch the white hot Red Sox, but with the pitchers struggling, hitters are going to have to do their part and they certainly didn't on Monday night.

Kyler Tucker continues his torrid hitting.

The Astros outfielder remains their best and most consistent hitter this postseason. Monday night,  he went 1-2 including a three-run homer, accounting for the only runs of the game by Houston. Tucker and Yuli Gurriel (2-3) were the only bright spots in the lineup all night. As good as Tucker has been, he cannot single handedly carry the offense, particularly when they must be relied upon to win games.


Pitching left in a difficult situation in Game 4.

With Lance McCullers injured, it is a pretty good bet the Astros will turn to opening day starter Zack Greinke, but Greinke has barely thrown at all in the last month and struggled before then. He certainly has plenty of experience, but he should not be expected to throw more than about 40 pitches meaning another taxing night for the bullpen. Fortunately, long reliever Christian Javier is well rested because they will probably need him.

Starters just getting crushed.

There is no way to sugar coat it. The Astros starters have been a complete train wreck in this series, and it isn't likely to improve in the next game. The starting rotation had been a question mark much of the year, but it was covered up by a solid bullpen and unreal offensive numbers. Now, in the microcosm of the postseason, they are being shredded.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke